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The latest update as of February 10, 2017

And we're off to the races.... until the weather intervenes

8:30 PM (Pacific Time)

Day Two of the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals was running smoothly until the weather window slammed shut just before 5:00 pm, halfway through the second qualifying session of Nitro Funny Car. With a handful of floppers and a full contingent of Top Fuel cars still waiting in the staging lanes, the decision to call it a day was made amid continuing rain showers and an increasingly marginal track temperature. An ominous sidenote to the official announcement was the sub-head of "Tomorrow Is Questionable".

A quick check of the Weather Network forecast for Pomona indicated a 40% POP (probability of precipitation) from dawn to dusk tomorrow, accompanied by temps that won't exceed 60 F during the day. Not exactly conditions conducive to harnessing the energy generated by very high-horsepower cars at the venerable Parker Avenue/LA Fairplex facility. And haven't we seen this scenario play out so many times over the 57 years that the event has been running?

The first time I attended the Winternationals, we had to endure near blizzard conditions all the way through southern Oregon and northern California, before hitting a major roadblock (snow-block) at the "Grapevine" leading into southern California. A nearly 200-mile detour out to the Pacific Coast and down through Santa Barbara eventually got us to the race on opening day. But the weather didn't let up entirely all weekend as unseasonably cold temperatures and intermittent rain made the entire event a very hard slog indeed.

This year's event might be another of those patience and endurance testing ordeals but we've seen marginal weather forecasts magically turn into decent and even stellar performance conditions more than a few times. Based on the numbers posted in all the classes so far, that could very well be the case again this year. But if the weather doesn't cooperate tomorrow, then Sunday's eliminations could be a real crapshoot with very little data for the tuners to work with at the beginning of the season.

With barely full fields in all the major categories, almost every racer in the pits will get to the first round, except for one unlucky Pro Stocker and two Fuel Funny Car racers. One of the well-sponsored racers in the latter cateogry, Cruz Pedregon, is currently outside the field with the distinct possibility of no more chances to get into the sweet sixteen. Over in Top Fuel, perennial hard-trier Terry Haddock was a no-show in the first, and only, qualifying session of the day. Not being ready to run in that opening session might well prove to be a $10,000 lesson for Mr. Haddock if the weather doesn't improve on Saturday.

There isn't enough time tonight to go through the qualifying performances but we'll be back at it in the morning and try to give our take on just who's running well and who isn't and what to expect for the balance of the event. Until then, a very big and heartfelt shout-out to Surrey BC's Shawn Cowie and the "Mundies Towing" team who sit atop the ladder in Top Alcohol Dragster with a career best 5.241 clocking in today's second qualifying session. Good on ya mates!

Shawn Cowie TAD